Wu Ling is a key figure in the Chinese Fashion Industry. She followed Angelica Cheung stepping into the world of Vogue China from Elle China, and within just a few years she became Vogue China’s assistant Fashion Director, where legendary Nicoletta Santoro stands as Fashion Director. Not long after that, Ling shocked the industry by leaving the illustrious house of Vogue and settled back into Shanghai, her hometown. Wu Ling’s journey of fashion definitely did not end there. In fact, she soon became one of China’s most wanted fashion stylists, collaborating closely with various A-List Chinese publications and fashion companies. Now, she has a fashion film column in Vogue China. And in the upcoming fall, Wu Ling will open her fashion illustration column in Modern Weekly, China’s most influential and bestselling weekly fashion publication. Added to that, Ling is about to launch a collection of handbags this November. After graduating from CSM 10 years ago, Wu Ling shares her stories from CSM with, discussing Vogue and her future venture.
How did you hear about CSM at that time? It was totally different world from now.
The only fashion I read about was [about] CSM from a story in Elle, which was the only fashion magazine then. So, I decided that was the college I wanted to go!
Did your family have a strong influence on your choice?
How did it feel to be a student at CSM at that time?
All I can describe it as is “cool”. It’s a place that encourages you to be yourself and different. I was really into styling myself everyday for school. I remember I changed my hair style 3 times in one day, haha!
Any memories you’d like to share? School, big projects, romance, Fashion Week or encounters with notable figures?
No romance at all… sadly, you know it’s a fashion school. But I was lucky that all the tutors loved me and my work. Some of my classmates’ work and style was not appreciated by the tutors from the beginning of the course, which was very unlucky…
Did the tutors push you very hard? How did you deal with it?
Oh yes. I was recommended by a freelance pattern tutor to intern at Hussein Chalayan in my first year. It was forbidden, because we were only allowed to do this in our third year. I couldn’t understand that at the time. Now I realise that it was right that I stopped. In my third year I got the chance to intern at Galliano in Paris for half a year recommended by the college, legally.
Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project?
It was about my Chinese childhood. The colour, pattern, texture, which are all in my roots. I interpreted them in a modern and fun way. My show music was “magic man” from the sound track of The Virgin Suicides, which I watched in Paris. It’s such a beautiful film. My collection was selected for the press show. It was such an honour.
Besides you, any big names from your time at CSM?
Gareth Pugh was in my year.
Before Vogue, what else did you do?
I started at Elle before Vogue was launched in China. And I interned at The Observer in London after my graduation. By that time, I had my mind set on being a stylist.
So Vogue- it was a magical place, wasn’t it?
No place quite like it!
How was it like working with Angelica Cheung?
She’s like my mentor.
After Vogue, you’re living a brand new life in Shanghai. Tell us a little bit about your hobbies, and your recent illustrations. Do you work certain style, or just go with your instinct?
I learned at CSM that it’s the expression you put into your drawing or painting that matters, not the technique. So I believe everyone can draw, and have their own style, as long as you let yourself go and have confidence; not afraid of making mistakes.
You have a fashion film column in Vogue China. Does film always serve the role as the biggest fashion inspiration? What else inspires you?
Yes, I have always been obsessed with old movies. I just love the elegance and the ‘coolness’ of them, even the tacky ones. I guess time make things more acceptable and beautiful.
London, Beijing and Shanghai, how do these great city influence and shape you as a woman?
-And Paris! I lived there for my intern year at Victor Hugo. It was a posh district. I just really enjoyed my internship at Galliano. I could work on my fabric collages and beading embroidery forever. I designed a rose, cross-stitch embroidered bra for Galliano, and two camouflage print designs for his first menswear collection. I learned and developed so much working at Galliano. I have the most lovely memories from there.
How would you describe your style?
Classic, and elegant- with an edge.
Any new Chinese design talk in mind now?
What do you think you can do to help the Chinese Fashion Industry?
Angelica really supports local designers. Vogue is a great platform.
Will you ever return to fashion publication business or, have you even ever left?
I’m still working closely with magazines, and will always be around.
Do you have any advice for current or potential CSM students?
Just be yourself, and be original. That’s why we go to CSM!
For more information about her, you can follow Wu Ling on Instagram. Her account is @Lingywu.